Sommeliers stock, prepare, advise on and serve wine and other alcoholic beverages.
The duties of a sommelier include, but are not limited to:
- Creating and updating wine lists with the chefs and manager.
- Making recommendations on food and wine pairings.
- Ensuring that the wine cellar is fully stocked.
- Informing guests on the variety of wines available.
- Training wait staff on available wines.
- Negotiating prices with vendors.
- Organizing wine tasting events.
- Complying with health and safety regulations.
The following job titles also refer to sommelier:
Sommeliers work in restaurants, hotels, and private clubs, where they are responsible for selecting and purchasing wine, as well as storing and serving it. They may also be responsible for developing wine lists and training staff in wine service.
Sommeliers typically work long hours, including evenings and weekends, when restaurants are busiest. They may also travel to wine-producing regions to meet with winemakers and learn about new wines. Some sommeliers work in wine shops, where they advise customers on wine selections and help with wine tastings. Others work for wine distributors, where they sell wine to restaurants and retailers. Some sommeliers also teach wine appreciation classes or write about wine for magazines or websites.
No formal educational credential is generally required to work as a sommelier. However, many sommeliers do hold an associate’s degree in culinary arts, winemaking or hospitality. Some employers look for candidates who hold a professional certificate awarded by institutions such as the Worldwide Sommelier Association, the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale, or the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Sommeliers undergo extensive training in the hospitality industry. They often start as waiters and work their way up to the position of sommelier. They may also work in the hospitality industry in other roles, such as bartending or management, before becoming a sommelier.
Sommeliers can also receive on-the-job training in the form of an apprenticeship. During an apprenticeship, a sommelier will work closely with a senior sommelier to learn about the hospitality industry. They will also learn about the different wines and spirits and how to pair them with food.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Sommelier is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Sommelier career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to sommelier.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of sommelier. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of sommelier with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of sommelier.
- Wine characteristics: The origins and characteristics of international wines.
- Sparkling wines: The varieties of sparkling wines and their match with food products.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of sommelier.
- Select glassware for serving: Choose appropriate glassware for beverages and inspect glass quality and cleanliness.
- Comply with food safety and hygiene: Respect optimal food safety and hygiene during preparation, manufacturing, processing, storage, distribution and delivery of food products.
- Order supplies: Command products from relevant suppliers to get convenient and profitable products to purchase.
- Organise wine cellar: Systematise the wine cellar to ensure an appropriate amount and variation of wine and carry-out efficient and effective stock rotation.
- Upsell products: Persuade customers to buy additional or more expensive products.
- Check wine quality: Control the quality of wines and report corked or spoiled wines and return them to suppliers.
- Serve wines: Provide wine using proper techniques in front of the customers. Open the bottle correctly, decant the wine if needed, serve and keep the wine in the proper temperature and container.
- Assist customers: Provide support and advice to customers in making purchasing decisions by finding out their needs, selecting suitable service and products for them and politely answering questions about products and services.
- Maintain customer service: Keep the highest possible customer service and make sure that the customer service is at all times performed in a professional way. Help customers or participants feel at ease and support special requirements.
- Recommend wines: Offer recommendations to customers on available wines and advise combinations of wines with specific dishes on the menu.
- Decant wines: Identify when wine should be decanted. Decant the bottles in presence of guests in a professional and safe way. Decanting especially benefits red wines. Pour wine from one container into another, typically in order to separate out sediment.
- Compile wine lists: Create and update wine lists ensuring it complements the food menu and brand characteristics.
- Prepare alcoholic beverages: Make and serve alcoholic beverages according to the customer’s wants.
- Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the perspective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of sommelier. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Apply foreign languages in hospitality: Use the mastery of foreign languages orally or written in the hospitality sector in order to communicate with colleagues, customers or guests.
ISCO group and title
5131 – Waiters
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